David Stern

David Stern was known to me as Uncle Tommy.
He was a good friend of Dad, Carl L. Biemiller.

If you've had a chance to read Carl's Blue Book Bio.,
you'll note a reference to a neighbor who gave Mr. Biemiller a job.

That neighbor was Uncle Tommy's father, a newspaper man himself.


©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser November 26, 2003

Creator of ‘Francis, the Talking Mule’ dies

November 26, 2003

NEW ORLEANS (AP) David Stern III, former publisher of the New Orleans Item and author of Francis, the Talking Mule, a novel that inspired a series of movies, has died at 94 on Saturday in San Francisco.

Stern, a native of Philadelphia who graduated from Harvard University, had a 30-year newspaper career, including top management posts at the New York Post, the Philadelphia Record and the Courier Post in Camden, N.J.

Stern and some associates bought the Item in 1949 for about $2 million, according to Editor & Publisher, a trade magazine. He ran the paper until its merger with The States in 1958.

As a captain in the Army during World War II, Stern helped to publish Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for soldiers. It also was during the war, his family said, that he came up with the idea for a novel about a talking mule named Francis.

The book chronicled the saga of a gifted Army mule whose advice to a bumbling young lieutenant wins battles and astounds the high brass. A series of movies starring Donald O’Connor was launched in 1949 and ran through 1956.

Eric's Note:

Dad's copy of Francis, copyright 1946, is signed by the author.

It reads, "To Carl Biemiller,
Who, Francis says, might struggle up to one stripe in the right mule outfit."

It is signed, Tom Stern.

The book is in my possession and I'm happy to have it.

From the Francis Book Jacket:

David Stern says: "When I joined the Army in 1943, I had been publishing a couple of newspapers. I told this to the classification interviewer, who dutifully recorded my civilian background on a large card. They say the Army always finds the job to fit the man. I was assigned as assistant on a garbage truck.

"Circumstances led me, via Officer Candidate School, to Hawaii, where I was assigned as Co-Officer-in-Charge of an Army newspaper called MIDPACIFICAN. One night I was sitting looking at a blank, unpainted wall. To pass the time I wrote four pages of dialogue between a second lieutenant and an Army mule. I had no intention of writing more. But that little runt of a mule kept bothering me. With memories of OCS fresh in my mind I thought I might rid myself of the creature by shipping him off to become a second lieutenant. Francis outwitted me. He refused to go."

Another interesting obit. for "Uncle Tommy" can be found at the SanFrancisco Chronicle

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